Last week, I finished reading The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. It has taken me a long time to pick up the book and read it – I got it as a Christmas present last year, as it was on my ‘wish-list’! The hardback book is absolutely beautiful – it is black, red and white, the colours running through the book, and the cover art is one of the best I’ve seen on a dust-cover. I was putting it off because the book is so lovely, that I wanted to read it when I had the real time to devote to it. It sounds strange, but sometimes I do put off reading books because I want to read them so much.
The reason I wanted to read The Night Circus has a lot to do with NaNoWriMo. Basically, Erin Morgenstern wrote the rough draft of the novel one November. To me, the thought of a NaNoWriMo novel in its finished, many drafted form, gave me a rush of hope for when I, perhaps, would one day finish a complete novel, no matter how much of a mess the present incarnation is. After all, National Novel Writing Month is not a time to worry about the perfect structure of a sentence or to write ‘quality’ writing – it’s a month of literary abandon, where you just write, and to hell with it if you repeat the same phrase several times in one chapter. That can be fixed next year. So, seeing such a beautiful, perfectly bound novel like The Night Circus fills you with the hope that yes, one day, that might be your novel – finished, edited, re-drafted and beautiful.
The Night Circus is the perfect circus. At least for someone obsessed with imagination, the spectacular and the supernatural. It is a place where you wander, from tent to tent, attraction to attraction, perhaps giving no thought to how seamless the conjuring is, how that person seems to be able to contort themselves into impossible shapes, how still and slowly moving the living statues are. How the tents seem to multiply each time you visit again, with things inside you can barely believe. Erin Morgenstern has decked this circus world in black and white, with only a hint of red here and there, a flash of red worn by long time connoisseurs and fans (called ‘Reveurs’).
As if that wasn’t enough – two magicians, recruited when children – one by her father, the magician Prospero, and the other by the man in the grey suit (Mr A-H) – use the circus as the site of their challenge. A challenge that threatens to ruin their lives, the lives of the people in the circus and the lives of the Reveurs. The challenge takes a new dimension when they – Celia and Marco – fall in love, using the circus as a site for collaborations and displays of their affection. The mysterious Mr A-H and Prospero, naturally, are less than impressed with this.
The Night Circus is a book of magic, love and impossibilities. Reading it, I found myself wishing that such a circus exists – a mixture of the gothic and the dreams you find in books. When I finished, the sadness that followed – the sadness that a good book and dream was over – followed me for a while. You can imagine how the Reveurs became addicted to the thrill and wonder of such a place – a place where you can escape. The vividity of Erin Morgenstern’s descriptions are a sensory delight. That is why, when it comes to it, that I know I will revisit The Night Circus again. It is a book to cherish and inspire.
You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift. ~ Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus.